Wednesday, 2 January 2019


On this day in 1959, the Soviet space programme launched the first interplanetary probe known as Luna 1—or with the alternate designation “Dream” above—and although due to a miscalculation on the burn-time of the last stage of the booster rocket, it over-shot its target, the Moon, but still in the process became the first spacecraft to escape Earth orbit.
The probe was able to take pioneering measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field (and the cosmic rays it protects the Earth from) and flying-by at a distance of some six-thousand kilometres was able to detect the absence of one on our satellite. In transit, the probe released a trail of sodium gas and scintillated like the tail of a comet and was to ultimately crash land on the lunar surface and release two metallic pennants and coat of arms of the Soviet Union on 4 January but veered off course (Luna 2 accomplished this mission of planting a flag in September of the same year) and remains in heliocentric orbit (along with some later cosmic interlopers) between Earth and Mars, designated according to the minor planet naming-convention, like Ultima Thule, as 1959 Mu 1.